J. Richard Stevens's enterprise stands at the crossroads between social science—his original area of expertise—and popular culture. Combining the two, Stevens presents the multiple facets of a fictional character known to anyone who has read Marvel comic books or, at least, heard of the Avengers: Captain America.

The book analyzes the iconic status of Captain America by highlighting salient elements according to the moment of production (Stevens proposes to divide the character's evolution into eight successive periods) and distribution of his adventures. As Stevens indicates in the preface, he had to delve into considerable material—not only the comic books in which Captain America appears but also “fanzines of different eras” as well as “letter columns at the back of … comic books” (p. 20) and, more recently, cartoons and feature films.

Scrutiny of this mass of primary sources (more than 5,000 comic books) provided core material, which Stevens evaluates by...

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